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Exclusive: Is this a Massive iPhone 4s, iPhone 5 Google Adwords Scam?

Something funny (and dubious) happens when you try to search for the terms "iPhone 4", "iPhone 4S", "iPhone 3GS" or "iPhone 5" in the UK, you get some intriguing adverts popping up with incredibly low prices for the aforementioned devices.

The issue is, that out of the 11 Adwords adverts on the search engine results page below, only three are genuine (O2, T-Mobile and Three), the eight others redirect to two websites either called ipodnano5gsale.com or nano5sale.com which is a domain name registered in China, while the traceroute showed that the server was based in the US.

Yet, the authors of the scam have registered domain names of well known UK websites (watchshop, tshirtstudio, bench, lindy, drinkstuff, all of which have been highly rated on Google products) but in China, using the cn.la top level domain name.

These domain names (e.g. www.bench.cn.la) all invariably redirect to one website, and the fact that the adverts use the same wordings, have the same typo and refer to the same product means that it should be easy to identify them as rogue adverts.

The ipodnano5gsale website is designed to look a lot like the Apple website with similar icons and colour scheme, but the fact that the checkout page is not even secured (no padlock or HTTPS://) means that any orders will almost certainly end in disarray.

Désiré Athow
Contributor

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.